Jai McDowall: what happened to the BGT: The Champions singer from Ayrshire after he was dropped by Simon Cowell's label?

Jai McDowall took the nation by storm when he emerged victorious from the fifth series of Britain’s Got Talent back in 2011.

By Ross McIndoe
Friday, 6th September 2019, 6:58 pm
Jai McDowall won BGT in 2011. (Picture: ITV)
Jai McDowall won BGT in 2011. (Picture: ITV)

Eight years after his first run, the Irvine-born singer is back for Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions tomorrow night (7 September), going up against the likes of Stavros Flatley, Collabro, Ashleigh and Sully, George Sampson, Julia Carlisle and Lost Voice Guy.

But what happened to Jai McDowall following the success of his first stint on BGT?

Britain’s Got Talent success

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Simon Cowell admitted he regretted his comments about Jai. (Picture: Shutterstock)

When McDowall entered the competition that made him famous, he was only 24 years old.

In spite of his young age, he already had two Simon Cowell-related talent contests under his belt – appearing as a contestant on both The X Factor and The American Idol Experience.

The third time proved lucky for the former care worker, as he stunned the judges by pipping the contest’s assumed favourite, Ronan Parke, to the title.

As a result of his success, he was awarded a £100,000 prize and signed to a one-album record deal with Simon Cowell’s label Syco Music.

He also earned a spot at the 2011 Royal Variety Performance, performing alongside the likes of Ceelo Green.

First album flop

However, things began to falter soon thereafter.

McDowall recorded his debut album, Believe, and afterwards described the process in glowing terms.

“Being in the studio was everything I hoped it would be and I loved the whole creative process” he told Digital Spy in 2012.

“I like the style of singing I did on Britain’s Got Talent – a kind of mix of musical and pop – so we’re working along those lines.”

He performed the album’s lead track “With or Without You” on China’s Got Talent, though no license was applied for to sell the record in that country.

The album then went on to under-perform in the sales charts and, as a result, Syco Music chose not to continue working with McDowall.

Since then, he has gone on to star alongside G4’s Jonathan Ansell in their stage show Les Musicals which toured the UK earlier this year.

Simon Cowell criticism

Simon Cowell regrets his comments about Jai McDowall. (Picture: Shutterstock)

Much has been made of McDowall’s relationship with Simon Cowell, largely thanks to the music mogul’s pointed criticism of the 2011 champion.

“I was disappointed with last year’s winner, Jai” Cowell explained in 2012, “You want to find someone who is a star all over the world and who has got a long career. With respect to him, he wasn’t one of our best ones.”

A news story which claimed that McDowall accused Cowell of an anti-Scottish bias then gained a great deal of attention, though McDowall insists he never made any such claim.

The two will be reunited, with McDowall appearing on Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions this weekend, where he will compete with winners from the competition’s other series.

Ahead of McDowall’s return, Cowell admitted he felt bad about what he’d said to the singer back in 2011.

He told The Sun: “I did feel when I saw him again that he’s the definition of a proud man. He didn’t sulk — he just came back to prove a point. And he did.”

What’s the idea of the show?

Bello and Annaliese Nock perform on Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions (Photo: Syco/ITV)

Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions brings together the world’s most talented and memorable acts from past series of Got Talent.

The acts will compete in this supersized version of BGT, all trying to be crowned the ultimate champion and walk away with the cash prize and coveted Champions Trophy.

Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams return to the judging panel as they take their seats, ready to be impressed by a whole host of global talent.

Each week, two acts make it through to the grand finale – the first is a Golden Buzzer act chosen by one of the judges or Ant and Dec while the second is voted through by superfans in the arena audience.

Week one saw two acts voted through to the final: Kseniya Simonova, Amanda Holden’s Golden Buzzer choice and Bello and Annaliese Nock, who got through on the superfan vote.

Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions continues this Saturday at 8pm on ITV.